LIMA — When Procter & Gamble decided on expanding, Lima became its choice location in 1968. The company had built a fine reputation in its 131 years of business with products known to most Americans.
An advertisement for employees was placed in the local papers announcing career opportunities in Lima.
Employee No. 1
Bob Williams, of Alger, was 43 years old in 1968 and a lifetime farmer.
“I wasn’t getting where I wanted to be because I wanted to be able to retire without selling out,” Williams said. “Procter & Gamble had been around in business for how many hundreds of years. I figured the company coming into Lima with a new plant, you get in at the base, you will be employed as long as the plant was there.”
Williams’ interview went well. He was asked what he thought, and Williams asked for a day to think about it.
“I was playing coy; I didn’t want to be too aggressive. I knew I was going to take the job that day,” Williams said.
Williams took the job with the company, starting out with an hourly wage of $2.75 and earning the position of employee No. 1. He made it his mission to retire from P&G. He retired in 1990, making $19.50 an hour.
Williams retired after 22 years of service with a pension that sustains he and his wife, Mary. He continues to farm.
Employee No. 2
Louis Risser, of Pandora, was 44 in 1968 and a farmer. He had been in the Marines, serving in World War II and the Korean War and then came back to Pandora to continue farming.
Risser heard about the new plant being built in Lima from a family friend. The friend told Risser that his welding experience might be just what the new company was looking for.
Risser’s interview happened the afternoon that Williams’ did. Risser was hired that day and given the distinction of being employee No. 2.
“I had no hesitation about driving back and forth (from Pandora to Lima) because of its reputation,” Risser said.
Risser went into the management side of the company within months of becoming employed.
He retired after working 20-plus years at P&G as a project manager. He and his wife, Margaret, continue to live in Pandora.
Lima’s P&G plant had not yet broken ground, but the company was anxious to begin the hiring and training process. The company set up shop in Lima’s 311 building.
Williams and Risser became good friends as the two worked for approximately two to three weeks, just the two of them uptown in the 311 building.
“We put all the training material together because there were going to be 28 to 29 people in the first class to train out there,” Williams said. “Everyone went there for classes for three or four months getting oriented and knowing terminology and stuff.”
The 311 building was used by P&G most of the summer for training purposes.
Good place to work
While the longstanding reputation of the company was the main focus for both Williams and Risser wanting to work at P&G, the reason they stayed was because it was such a nice company to work for.
“They were a good company. If you did your job like you should, you got recognition for it. I know if you could show improvements, they would do it,” Williams said. “As far as I’m concerned, there was very little bad with the company. I don’t know of anything that the company did to me that I would say was wrong.”
Risser echoed his friend’s comments.
“Heavens, that was such a good job,” Risser said. “The company was always so happy that people took it upon themselves to do things. They were generous with flattery and thank you’s. They are an excellent company to develop people.”
Advice for job seekers
Both Williams and Risser enjoyed their time with P&G. They advised young people to do some research on prospective employers prior to accepting a position to make sure their skills meet the requirements of the position.
“Check what the job is to find out if you would like it. If you take the job, go to work every day. Don’t have any excuse to stay home. I didn’t miss too many days, never over three days at a time,” Williams said,
Risser added, “Tell them all the things that you can do and the skills you have, and let them sort of figure out what to do with them. Do the best you can, and listen to what they want done.”
Reach Merri Hanjora at 567-242-0511.